Studying abroad can be great for your personal development, but it can also help you stand out to employers. However, many graduates who have international experience neglect to highlight this when they start looking for jobs, perhaps because they’re unsure how to talk about it.
So, what makes international students so unique in the eyes of employers? It all comes down to the specific skills and attributes you pick up when studying abroad. Here are five that employers most commonly associate with international students and that they love to see:
Companies value employees who can work well independently, manage their time and workload effectively and aren’t afraid to take initiative because they’re usually more productive and require less management. Having studied abroad, you demonstrate that you are prepared to take on new challenges in unfamiliar surroundings and you succeed when you do so, independently.
Moving to a different country often means getting used to a different way of life. The fact that you were able to start from scratch somewhere new and not just study there but make new friends, find somewhere new to live, establish new routines and integrate yourself shows you’re adaptable. And it’s a skill that is highly sought-after in the workplace, as employers need people who can roll with the punches and thrive in an ever-changing environment.
Social & language skills
Studying abroad offers an opportunity to meet and establish friendships with people from all over the world. Having the ability to create meaningful connections wherever you go is incredibly valuable in the world of work, both in terms of building successful relationships with your colleagues or with clients or other external contacts. Moreover, studying abroad may have allowed you to learn another language, which is another desirable skill to have in an increasingly international business environment.
Cultural Intelligence is about your ability to recognise and adapt to cultural differences. This is very important at work because it helps minimise miscommunication and develop stronger workplace bonds, which in turn can boost productivity and creativity. Spending time in a different country and with people from different cultural backgrounds than you can help you build that cultural intelligence as you come into contact with new perspectives and traditions that open your mind and help you overcome your unconscious biases.
Your international background may give you a different view on certain situations and may help you come up with ideas and solutions that others may not have thought about. The fresh perspective and diversity that you bring can really help encourage innovation and help an organisation stay ahead of the game.
If you aren’t already an international student or graduate, consider how you can gain that international experience through further study or work abroad. If moving to a different country isn’t an option, but you still want to develop the same skills, there are some other meaningful things you could do, such as volunteering at a migrant or refugee centre or getting involved in community development projects.
Organisations know that it’s these soft, transferable skills that can make their business run better, and as such they have become a clear, determining factor in the hiring process. So, wherever you go, whatever you do, make sure that you reflect on the skills and attributes your international experience has brought you, and highlight them in your application or during an interview.